Matthew just wrote a post about Ichiro below this. It’s based more on facts and what it means for both sides. This post is more of the emotional aspect and I just wanted to write a few words about the legend.
For the last month I’d been planning to write a post about Ichiro Suzuki. I’ve been a defender of his this past year and I had grown frustrated with the media constantly bashing him while overlooking other faults in the organization. Every time I tried to write the post though, I couldn’t get it out. The truth is, Ichiro just has been very good in the last couple of years and I couldn’t write a strong enough piece to totally defend him. I guess, more than anything it bothered me how Ichiro was treated.
I’ve never been one to truly care about how much a player talks to the media. I didn’t like it when Chone Figgins repeatedly said, “Next question.” but that’s just because I don’t like Figgins. Unfortunately, the media doesn’t like it when players don’t speak to them and where do fans get most of their information? The media. With that in mind, I think number 51’s career was tarnished a little bit. Ichiro Suzuki was one of the Mariners most productive hitters this season. He wasn’t good, in fact, he was bad, but there truly weren’t many better guys. Yet, talk shows spent hour after hour debating his spot in the batting order. National media members (Jon Heyman) tweet about the Mariners once a month and it’s usually to bash Ichiro.
For some reason, Ichiro has gotten the label of being a ‘selfish’ baseball player. This stemmed from him not interacting with people and always hitting singles. Think about how ridiculous this notion is now that he’s not here. You had 2,533 hits for our organization and you are selfish. What? Former players didn’t understand Ichiro and then bashed him, because of that, after they’d left town.
Over the course of this year, there have been many things said about Ichiro that shouldn’t have been said. Jay Buhner said recently said he would have vomited if Ichiro was signed to a good-sized extension. We all understood the sentiment, but don’t you think he could have made it sound better? A Mariner legend, who will never sniff the hall of fame, just insulted a future hall-of-famer, who played in Seattle longer than he did, in front of the whole city. No one would have done this to Jr. in his last season even though he was producing at a much lower rate.
I think, over the past year, we’ve diminished the player Ichiro was. He’s been the face of Japanese baseball and will continue to be long after he retires. I ask you to forget all things that were said this past year about Ichiro. He’s not selfish, he’s from another culture and just came here to play baseball the way that he knew how. He was great at it. He’ll be the 2nd player inducted into the Hall as a Mariner, right after Griffey, and he should be treated like that. He’s a legend and we won’t see anyone else do what he did, ever. 2,533 hits in 11 and a half seasons. Read that sentence again.
Remember Ichiro for his laser throw to gun down Terrance long. Remember Ichiro for the day he broke Sisler’s hit record. Remember him for the player he was as a Mariner, not the picture some of the media painted him as.
I’ve always hated the Yankees. I’m like most people. Now, I will root like crazy for them to win the World Series. Ichiro truly deserves that.
I’m sorry if you ever felt under-appreciated here, Ichiro. I hope you know that you are loved in this city and you’re a legend. Go hit .320, win a ring, wear it to spring training and punch Jon Heyman in the face with it on.